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Skateboarders cross-country trek raises money for multiple sclerosis research
Tristan Lock, 25, of Fairfax, Va., says he has only changed the bushings on his longboard once since beginning his 5,000-mile ride to San Diego, Calif. Lock and Josh Stowe, far left, 19, are riding their longboards across the country to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. On Thursday, they made a stop in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

For two guys skateboarding across the country, a stop in Gainesville on Thursday was day 33, mile 700.

The pair is taking on the adventure as a way to have fun while raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Tristan Lock, 25, of Fairfax, Va., said he got the idea for the eight-month journey after finding himself out of a job.

“I had a construction company going for a while, and that ended up not working out,” Lock said. “I ended up sitting down and thinking, look, I’ve got no wife, no kids, no real attachment holding me anywhere, why shouldn’t I go travel?”

Lock said he made a list of all the places he’d like to visit in the U.S. and decided to take one long trip to see them all.

“I was thinking about this book called ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ where this guy takes a motorcycle trip across the country. One of the things he said is, if you take a car ride everywhere, you’re just looking through a window to see everything. If you’re on a motorcycle, you’re seeing it, you’re smelling it, you’re feeling it. I decided (to) go a step farther. ... I figured the best way to do that was on a skateboard.”

Lock worked with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to make the trip an official fundraiser.

He said through doing something out of the ordinary, he hopes some of the attention will raise awareness for multiple sclerosis, which is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Lock found a travel buddy through the Web site, Craigslist. Lock and Josh Stowe, 19, of Manassas, Va., met on the first day of their journey.

“We’ve just been riding ever since,” Lock said.

The two travel on longboards, which are long skateboards with bigger wheels. They carry backpacks and sleeping bags and camp out in the woods each night when it gets dark.

“We have a tent,” Stowe said. “Sometimes people will let us stay in their house.”

On Thursday, the two stopped at Solo Tattoos on Atlanta Highway after it began to rain.

Lock said one of the best parts of the trip has been meeting people from all over the country. Spending time with people at the tattoo shop was another memorable experience, he said.

“They offered to do a really cheap tattoo for Josh as a good luck thing, so that’s really cool,” Lock said “I’m getting to know all sorts of people from all walks of life from all over the country.”

Another goal of the trip is to raise awareness for alternative transportation.

“You can usually get places on a board that you can get to in a car,” Lock said. “If people want to ride bikes or do whatever, it’s better than driving. You don’t congest the streets up, you’re not burning fuel ... plus it gives you a reason to get healthy. And it’s all sorts of fun.”

The two have been collecting donations for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society from people they meet along the way. They also have a PayPal account for donations on their blog.

Stowe and Lock plan to end their journey in San Diego, Calif.

“All in all, it’s about 5,000 miles,” Stowe said. “I’ve gone through three pairs of shoes and lots of back-breaking days, but it’s fun.”

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